One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A roughly shaped but unfinished spar, especially one carried on a ship as a spare mast.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Samuel Purchas. Apparently originally a variant of roof-tree, reflecting a pronunciation with/ʌ/ in the first element (apparently resulting from vowel shortening), but reinterpreted from an early date as if from rough + tree.
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